Once in a Promised Land

Laila Halaby, Author . Beacon $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8070-8390-1

In this trial of post-9/11 America, a Jordanian couple enjoys the spoils of freedom until fate curdles their dreams. Living in Tucson, Ariz., husband Jassim is a hydrologist with an immigrant's-eye view of the States as a place of "stainless steel promises... and possibility." His wife, Salwa, also believes in a country where anything from "a house in the foothills to sex with a co-worker" could be yours. But after the "crazy suicide" that destroys the Twin Towers, their idyllic lives are torpedoed; paranoid bigotry, patriotism run amok and a baseless FBI investigation are only the beginning. Compounding the suspicion, Jassim is involved in a fatal car accident and Salwa—haunted by a miscarriage and confused by the affections of another man—sends large amounts of money back home. Halaby (West of the Jordan ) uses this second novel to zero in on clashing cultures and lob rhetorical Molotov cocktails against the land of "antennas to God." Her prose crackles, but at the expense of her characters, whose inner lives are unconvincing even as their circumstances are awfully real. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 09/11/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-0-8070-8391-8
Open Ebook - 349 pages - 978-0-8070-8392-5
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